How do you feel about the season?
Toppin: Ugh what a waste. A down year in the ACC and a make or break season for Jim Christian should have been enough for this team to go .500 or better. Instead, the season seemed to drag on to the point that I hardly looked forward to games. This season cemented the feeling of stagnation for me, and I think a lot of people will agree that apathy has eclipsed nearly every other feeling I have about this program.
Peter: I desperately want to call this a wash of a season, but the fact that Coach Christian hasn’t been able to piece together a team that finishes above .500 more than once in his seven year tenure just adds another layer to the disappointments of this organization. I guess you could see that this was a much needed year for Jarmond to witness so that he can officially have a solid reason as to why he needs to reboot this program and start it from the ground up.
Laura: I have no real insight to add I just want it on record that I think this season was wild and I truly cannot understand how they beat some great teams but also played some games that were so bad they can barely even be called basketball?
Will: This season more of a disappointment than anything. The team could never put together a consistent forty minutes. Even when they played really well in one area, they struggled in another. This team has talent on it, young talent for sure, but talent nonetheless. I do not think Jim Christian is a bad coach, yet some of the blame for the inconsistency has to fall on Christian. There were times, especially in the ACC tournament, where frankly I thought the team quit on their coach. I don’t think firing Christian will fix this program. If BC wants a winning basketball program then they need to start making large changes that go beyond just swapping out coaches.
Arthur: I know that there is a decent amount of youth on the team, but it feels like this was a season of missed opportunity. The ACC was a total mess and it was an opportunity for the Eagles to really take hold. And yet, they were as inconsistent as the league itself, and it feels like we’re right back to where we were. Sure, BC got a bye past the first day of the ACC tournament, but the Eagles backed into it and didn’t really do much of anything against Notre Dame. So, it’s just kind of a whole bunch of meh for me.
How did reality end up compared to our/your preseason predictions?
Toppin: I was right that there was some incoming talent (I really like Jay Heath, CJ Felder, and Kamari Wiliams as pieces for the future), and 13-19 wasn’t too far off my 14-17 predicted record. And I was dead-on right about predicting the lineup. But I was definitely wrong about Nik Popovic being the MVP (feels like that one has to be Steffon Mitchell or Heath for me), and this team having a chance to overachieve.
Peter: I pretty much hit the nail right on the head in guessing that they would finish around 13 wins. I guess my apathy in this team really did come to fruition. The one thing that I did not foresee was how little of time Chris Herren Jr. was going to get on the court. I didn’t think that the talents of Heath, Felder and Williams would really outshine his potential. With that being said, I really don’t blame him for deciding to enter the transfer portal. Furthermore, Popovic was not exactly the stud that expected him to be this year. Granted it was mostly on account of this injuries, but having him sit for the last few games of his senior season was a real kick in the teeth to both him as well as the Eagle’s fan base who has been watching him develop for four years.
Will: I wasn’t sure the young talent was going to be as good as they were. This team played most of the year without its best player, Nik Popovic and still managed to sweep Virginia Tech and beat Virginia and NC State. Jay Heath is set to be the next star of the team and I think CJ Felder is going to emerge even better next year after being thrown into the fire with the injury to Pop. Considering that at times this team was better than I thought they’d be, the Eagles ended up right around where I thought they’d be.
Arthur: I didn’t submit a prediction, but I think the talent level was right about where I would think it would be. To be fair, I did not expect seven wins in conference, but I think that has more to do with how the ACC was as a whole rather than BC’s advancement. So I think BC was right about where I thought they would be.
What was the highpoint of the season for you?
Toppin: This is purely personal, but I got to see the Eagles beat Cal (my parents’ alma mater) with my dad in the new Chase Center in San Francisco. As a recent alumnus on the other side of the country, it was the only game I got to see in person this year. And I got to meet the Blogfather, Brian Favat (even though he’s a dirty Stanford fan). Pretty dope.
Peter: I would have to chalk up the win at home against UVA early in the season was probably the high point of the season. It was the first big ACC win for a lot of the Freshman on the team and certainly a nice momentum boost early on. It’s a shame that continuity flaws really continued to hold the team back despite the win...
Arthur: I think I’ll break the rules and say both Peter and Toppin are right. Going across the country to Cal’s back yard and taking care of business was really great, and I think it gave the Bay Area alumni something to hold on to, which is something that this team really needed. I also think that the UVA game was nice to see. Beating UVA was huge.
Will: Beating UVA. Upsetting the defending National Champs was a true surprise, not just because of how good the Cavs were but also how bad BC looked at that point in the year. It proved what BC could’ve been, a slightly better than average team in this year’s weak ACC.
What was the low point of the season?
Toppin: The end. Closing out the season with six straight losses, ranging from lethargically getting blown out by Clemson to a heartbreaker vs Notre Dame (and getting our heads bashed in by Florida State) was a sad (but expected) way to close out this year.
Peter: Agree 100% with Toppin on this one. The last few games of the season were just plain disgusting to watch. Especially the blowout loss against a low-ranked Miami team. It was at this point in the year where the team clearly showed signs of not caring about the outcome of the season at all.
Arthur: Yeah I don’t see how you don’t say the six game losing streak to close out the season. That last game was brutal to watch.
Will: Last home game versus Syracuse. Nothing sums up this season Eagles’ like breaking the school record for made three-pointers with 19 but still losing by 13. It was a performance that embodied how inconsistent this team was.
Do you think BC should keep Jim Christian around for another season?
Toppin: No. He’s clearly not the answer and it’s worth taking a shot on someone to be better. Even if he hasn’t lost the administration or locker room (which I don’t actually know anything about), he’s clearly lost the fans.
Peter: Hard no. Drain the swamp and rebuild!
Arthur: I like Jim Christian. I really, really do. I always liked his honesty in the press room (unlike one of his contemporaries) and I think his tenure was not a waste. Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman were legit players, and his staff spotted them and developed them. So if anyone tells me that Christian’s tenure was a waste, I have to say I disagree. With that said, I think it’s time for a change. This season feels like a miss, and I think we’ve come to the point where the program has stalled. I think BC needs to be intentional about how it proceeds on hiring a new coach, because the question no one wants to think about is who you replace him with (and don’t say anyone would do, because anyone will certainly not do), and unless you have a satisfactory way to at least get to that point, I am not without my concerns.
Will: I’m with Arthur, I like Christian, he’s well regarded, seems like he knows what he’s doing and he’s won a lot of the places he’s gone; he just hasn’t won at BC. I don’t think all of that is his fault but something was up with this team this year. The inconsistency, the way the team just seemed to lose heart when things didn’t go their way, all suggest that something wasn’t working off the court. Whether Christian couldn’t coach the team up or the players didn’t buy in, either way Christian couldn’t fix the problem and its job to do that. That being said, it’d be easier to say Christian should go if I didn’t think there is a larger problem at play here.
Do you think BC will keep Jim Christian around another season?
Toppin: They can’t. Can they? Fan interest has got to be at historical lows and I would be shocked if the donors aren’t fed up. But with all the craziness in the College Basketball world right now (and the stock market tanking, effecting big dollar donor liquidity), there might be the right conditions for him to sneak by.
Peter: All I will say is that if they decide to keep Christian around, you can expect similar results as years prior and the fan base for this team will continue to dwindle. Martin Jarmond is smart enough to realize that his main mission is bringing these programs back to new heights and looking at Jim Christian’s track record speaks for itself. This coach is not an ACC caliber coach and Jarmond recognizes this. So no, I do not think they will keep him.
Arthur: The only way I see Christian sticking around is if Martin Jarmond doesn’t have the stomach/political capital for another hiring process (which is not, like, out of the question). With that said, my guess is that they cut bait.
Will: It’s hard to find a coach who can build something out of nothing. BC is a very under-funded program and coaches like Brad Stevens, Ed Cooley, or Greg McDermott don’t come along often. I think it would be easier for BC to fire Christian than to try to conduct a fundraising campaign that will provide this program with the money it needs.
How do you feel about this team going into next season?
Toppin: I’ll be optimistic if a new head coach can come in, keep the incoming recruiting class, and pull a serviceable center off the graduate transfer market. If JC is here, I’ll watch to cover games but that’ll be it.
Peter: It all depends on who the new coaching hire is. I think there is some great talent on the floor that can be shaped into something, dare I say, beautiful? Addazio-isms aside, if this most recent Freshman class is willing to stick around and take on the leadership of a new coach then I will continue to stay optimistic for this program. JC stays, I’ll start to have a little more doubt in Jarmond as an AD.
Arthur: As an aside, I think I’d say pump the brakes a little bit on the coaching decision being a referendum on Martin Jarmond. I think two big buyouts in a year is a difficult thing to ask for. If he truly thinks Christian is the right person to move forward on, I think you absolutely should raise your eyebrows at Jarmond. But let’s not kid ourselves and say this is not a decision without complication. That said I think there is talent there, but a new coach needs to do some work with them.
Will: BC has a good batch of young talent but I just don’t know how far this program can go with things as they are. I really like this team on paper. After being without him for most of the year, I think I can see what this team will be like without Nik Popovic and a healthy Wynston Tabb can fit right into Derryck Thornton’s role. The questions, for me, are all off the court. Can BC get the coaching situation right? Can the school raise some money to help the program? These are the questions I need to see answered before I start getting optimistic about this team’s future.
Individual Awards, that go exactly how you expect
Who is your BC Offensive Player of the Year
Toppin: It’s gotta be Jay Heath. A freshman making big time shots? And playing PG when he’s clearly a SG? And leading the team in points and three point percentage? This one seems obvious and I sort of regret asking.
Peter: With Toppin on this one. Heath was an absolute stud. With injuries happening non-stop for this team, we needed someone to step up and perform. Heath was that guy who was our most reliable scoring option and always seemed to play with a chip on his shoulder. This kid certainly has a ton of potential in this league and I cannot wait to see how his collegiate career progresses.
Will: Heath by a mile.
Who is your BC Defensive Player of the Year, and why is it Steffon Mitchell?
Toppin: Steffon Mitchell. Without Steff, I don’t think this team could have won a conference game (especially taking into account all the injuries to Popovic and Jairus Hamilton). He’s everywhere defensively, gets the toughest matchups, and I just don’t understand those of you who can’t see it.
Peter: Gotta be Mitchell on this one. The tenacity, the team-spirit, the physicality on the boards...all of it...every game. He played through sickness knowing how depleted our bench was and always gave it his all no matter the circumstances. If we did not have him on the team, I am pretty sure we would have lost mostly every rebound opportunity and have a paint that invited the opposition to drive into.
Arthur: Yeah I don’t see how you can say anything but Mitchell here.
Will: I was big on Steffon Mitchell at the start of the year and that hasn’t changed one bit. The guy is a blue collar player who excels in doing the nitty gritty work.
Most Improved Player of the Year
Toppin: Also Steffon Mitchell. It took a while to show, but he added consistency to his offensive game this year. A lot of the layups that were off by an inch or two last year went in, and I was really impressed with his inside presence. We still have to work on his shot though.
Peter: Steffon Mitchell. As Toppin alluded to, Mitchell still has to get better from mid-range (also his free throw shooting is absolutely abysmal), but all-in-all he was finding more confidence beyond the arc and hit some pretty clutch threes throughout the season. Yet, defensively the kid was a standout player and in my mind has officially become a stout defender that you do not want to be up against.
Will: Mitchell. For all the reasons listed above and I think he took on a bigger leadership role in Nik Popovic’s absence.
Player you’re most excited for going forward
Toppin: Out of nowhere pick, but Kamari Williams. He’s not quite there yet, but whenever I saw him play, it was with a swagger and aggression that this team has been missing. He needs to bulk up a little bit more and learn to read the game better,
Peter: Jay Heath. The kid simply has so much raw talent and such a high ceiling that it will be exciting to see what type of ACC player he matures into. Plus he is so acrobatic around the rim that it is always a treat to get to watch him play. I have a sense that BC faithful will eventually come out to more games, if not for the whole team, than just to see this kid play.
Will: CJ Felder. At times Felder seemed like he wasn’t ready for the load he had to carry in the absence of Pop and Jairus but he showed promise and I think it will end up fast-tracking his development.